Online Exclusive- Skunk found in the Waweig area has tested positive for rabies, provincial vet confirms

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Rabid skunk confirmed in Waweig area

Waweig – A skunk found in the Waweig area has tested positive for rabies.

Jim Goltz, the chief provincial veterinarian for New Brunswick, confirmed the skunk, sporting porcupine quills, was spotted by a Waweig area resident on Feb. 8.

“The skunk was retrieved live and was euthanized humanely and tested positive for rabies,” stated Goltz.

He said this is the first case of rabies reported in the province in almost a year, the last being a raccoon in Elmsville on Feb. 17, 2016.

“We’ve gone nearly a year with no new cases. This case shows rabies is still around,” said Goltz, who added that thanks to a bait drop program conducted the past two years, the number of rabies cases has diminished in prevalence significantly.

“Rabies still hasn’t disappeared. Not every (wild) animal is immunized right away. It takes time to build up in the population,” explained Goltz. He said the province intends to continue the bail drop program again this year.

The vanilla- flavoured, sugar coated, waxed capsules containing rabies vaccine were dropped from a plane over affected rural areas or distributed by hand in municipalities. A total of 436,000 pieces of bait were distributed, along with 59,000 pieces in Fredericton and Saint John as a proactive preventative measure in those densely populated areas.

Goltz said the testing on any animal at a high risk of being positive for rabies is done within New Brunswick and sent to a lab in Ottawa for verification. The test results confirmed the provincial diagnosis on this skunk came back Feb. 15.

He urged the public to be aware the disease which can affect humans and their pets, “is still out there.”

Goltz cautions pet owners to make sure their animals’ vaccinations are up to date and to check with their local veterinarian to make sure.

He said it is important to enjoy wildlife “from a distance” and for parents to tell their children to also watch wild animals from a distance.

“Kids love wild animals and always try to get closer.”

Goltz advised against relocating a wild nuisance animal to another location to avoid the potential spread of disease.

“It could be incubating a disease and we don’t want it to spread.”

Goltz said the province is encouraging people to report any suspicious animals exhibiting abnormal behavio skunk.

“Report it by calling 811 so we can keep tabs,” said Goltz.

“The sooner we know of affected animals, the sooner we can make sure people are well informed and keep it under control.”

Goltz said the odds are other animals in this region are immune and vaccinated because of the two years of bait drops, but urged residents to report anything unusual.

 

 

kathy@stcroixcourier.ca

 

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Journalist Kathy Bockus is based in St. Stephen and has worked for The Saint Croix Courier as a general news reporter and feature writer for the past 15 years. She began her lengthy newspaper career in 1974 with a daily in Saint John. Bockus says she always jokes being a reporter is a licence to be nosey, but firmly believes that everyone has a story to tell. She can be contacted at 321-0759.